Allergy is an acute reaction of the body’s immune system to usually harmless substances. Symptoms of allergies can occur in different parts of the body, observed from several minutes to several days and be very different in severity.
Allergy causes, symptoms, and treatment
Allergies can occur on the wool of certain animal species, various foods, dust, drugs, chemicals, insect bites and pollen. Substances that cause allergies are called allergens. In some cases, allergic reactions are so weak that you may not even know that you suffer from allergies.
But the allergy can, on the contrary, be extremely dangerous and even threaten life. In people suffering from allergies, anaphylactic shock can occur a severe pathological condition associated with an extremely acute reaction of the body to the allergen.
Anaphylactic shock can cause various allergens: drugs, insect bites, food. Anaphylactic shock can also occur due to skin contact with the allergen, for example, with latex.
In some cases, adults experience allergies observed in childhood. But if the hypersensitivity has manifested itself only in adulthood, getting rid of it is very difficult. Allergic rhinitis (experts call this condition rhinitis) or hay fever is observed in 1 person out of 10 and is often hereditary.
People with other allergic diseases, such as bronchial asthma or eczema, also often suffer from allergic rhinitis. Such allergies are more common in women than in men.
In case of allergic rhinitis, the following symptoms may appear: itching in the eyes, in the throat, in the nose and on the palate, sneezing, and also stuffy nose, watery eyes, mucous discharge from the nose, conjunctivitis (redness and pain in the eyes). In severe cases, allergic rhinitis can cause an asthma attack (in people who have asthma) and eczema.
Causes of allergies
In some people, the immune system reacts sharply to certain substances (allergens), producing various chemicals. One of them, histamine, causes allergic symptoms. The reaction of the body can occur by inhalation, skin contact, the administration of an allergen or its ingestion. Allergens can be from animal hair, fluff, dust, food, cosmetics, medicines, pollen, cigarette smoke.
Symptoms of an allergy
An allergic reaction can occur in different parts of the body, and the signs can be observed from several minutes to several days.
– upper respiratory tract: hay fever, asthma;
reddened, watery eyes;
– pain and inflammation of the joints;
– hives, eczema;
– diarrhea, vomiting, indigestion.
– Anaphylactic shock (severe allergic reaction);
– shortness of breath or wheezing;
– rapid pulse;
– cold sweat;
– sticky skin;
– stomach cramps;
– collapse (acute vascular insufficiency);
In the absence of medical care, severe allergies can lead to death.
What can you do
- Light allergic reactions can cause a runny nose, watery eyes, and other symptoms resembling colds. There may also be a small rash. If you often celebrate such responses in yourself or your loved ones, you should consult a doctor.
- Remember that in case of anaphylactic shock, the allergy affects the whole organism. Anaphylactic shock can occur within 15 minutes after ingestion of an allergen. Therefore urgent measures should be taken (an ambulance should be called).
Avoid food, medicine and other substances that you have ever had an allergy.
Your allergy should be known to your friends, relatives, and colleagues. Always tell all doctors (including dentists, cosmetologists, etc.) of all your allergic reactions, especially to medications. This applies to both prescription and non-prescription drugs. Before you take any medicine, carefully read the packaging and instructions.
- For mild forms of allergic rhinitis, use decongestants and sprays to relieve symptoms. If a drug causes the allergy, stop using it immediately and consult a doctor.
Take antihistamines (allergy medications) prescribed by your doctor. When taking antihistamines with a sedative effect, avoid driving the car and controlling the mechanisms, because they can cause drowsiness.
However, some antihistamines do not have a sedative effect. In case of allergic reactions on the skin to remove irritation, use an antipruritic cream or lotion in the area of the rash.
What can your doctor do?
The doctor should exclude the possibility of other diseases, as well as conduct tests to identify the allergen and prescribe antihistamines and, if necessary, steroids. If the allergen is determined, but contact with it is inevitable, the doctor should introduce a particular vaccine for the prevention and treatment of allergies.
Also, a doctor can recommend a special diet for patients suffering from food allergies.
Preventative measures for allergy
Try to identify the substances that cause allergies, and always avoid them. Make sure that your house is clean and there is no dust, down and ticks. When you sweep or vacuum, knock out dust from furniture, change bed linens and at any other contacts with unused items, cover your nose (use a gauze dressing or mask). If you are allergic to pets, do not keep them in your home.
If you are allergic to medications, always carry a particular card with which it is written on which medications you are allergic. In this case, even if you are unconscious or can not remember the name of the drug, you will be immune from the administration of the allergen. If you have a severe allergy, inform your family and colleagues about it and do not forget to tell the doctors about it.
It is believed that “all diseases from nerves,” and allergy is not an exception. This is not quite so: stress plays the role of a “switch,” or a trigger that awakens a hereditary allergic predisposition. So if after a strong nervous shake you notice that the “cold” is something that has been dragged out and you can not get rid of the dry, debilitating cough, go to the immunologist allergist. If you suffer from itching, the dermatologist will help in its nature. Maybe the itch is neurogenic, or perhaps stress has woken up the dormant disease.
You can remove or alleviate the disease itself if you apply the whole complex of measures: hypoallergenic environment, specific therapy before flowering and symptomatic treatment during flowering.
The most common allergens are pollen, dust mites, animal hair, metals, medicines, foods, mainly dairy, strawberries, and citrus. To determine the personal allergen, you need to consult an allergist and make individual tests.
With allergic rhinitis – pollinosis – attacks of itching mucous, lachrymation, runny nose, sneezing and (sometimes) prolonged cough causes pollen. The most common plant-allergens are birch, poplar, alder, oak, willow, in the south – cypress and cereals. The most active allergen is the pollen of the quarantine weed of ambrosia – plants with small yellow flowers.
Do not treat pollen as an annoying, but temporary trouble. The triad of allergic rhinitis, atopic dermatitis, and bronchial asthma is called the “atopic march.”
How to live
One of the essential components of success in the fight against allergies is an anti-allergic diet. Fresh vegetables, legumes and cereals, inclusion in the diet of predominantly fish, and not meat, facilitate the manifestation of the disease. Drinks should be chosen without caffeine. But selecting food should be strictly individual after the tests: perhaps it is the fish or stone fruits that are your “personal enemy.”
It is widely believed that allergic people are harmful to live in a damp climate and dry and warm is a panacea. This may be true for other diseases, in particular for tuberculosis, but not for allergies.
Others think that on the contrary, allergic people need to live by the sea. This is not true. On the seashore, too, grow grass (the same ragweed), flowers and trees, the pollen from which disperses over long distances.
Do not lock the house in winter and autumn, during epidemics – on the contrary; outdoor walks are useful. But direct contact with infected people should be avoided by both healthy and allergic people.
By the way, among the many other allergies, there is also an allergy to the sun – photodermatitis. Do not hope that sunscreen helps to avoid rashes. Although it is recommended for allergy sufferers to apply such cream, it is necessary to reduce solar radiation to a minimum.
Some drugs significantly reduce allergy symptoms. “Antihistamines are usually necessary for symptomatic treatment. This is a wonderful remedy for direct and auxiliary therapy, but it is not a panacea, “explains Yuri Smolkin. – In rhinitis, nasal sprays of local action are shown, with asthma – bronchodilators, with dermatitis, external means are used.
To antihistamines in humans, the attitude is guarded – it is believed that they cause weakness and inundation. However, the drugs of the new generation do not cause addiction and feelings of fatigue.
Today, nasal corticosteroids are considered the most effective remedy for alleviating the symptoms of pollinosis. People have an even more negative attitude to them than to antihistamines because hormones have a reputation for a potent agent with a mass of side effects.
Nasal corticosteroids are practically not absorbed into the bloodstream and do not have a general effect on the body. However, prolonged use of them can cause the fungal infection of the nasal mucosa.
By the European recommendations, which are also accepted by American and Russian experts, nasal corticosteroids are prescribed for three months for a disease with vague symptoms, after which their effectiveness is assessed.
In more severe conditions, therapy is prescribed for a month, and then the patient’s condition is assessed. If there are rhinosinusitis and polyposis, the possibility of surgical treatment is being considered.
The only method that works for the cause of the allergy is still vaccination with an allergen. Such immunization is done both for adults and children. To entrust this intricate work, it is possible only to the first-class experts
TREATMENT FOR ALLERGIC DISEASE
It should be remembered the division of this group into allergies (which occur in healthy people, appear when specific antigens, such as drugs, “unfamiliar” spices, seasonings, etc.) come into contact or enter the body. And atopy (diseases based on genetic predisposition to superstrong reactions to various allergens, to topics include bronchial asthma, allergic rhinitis, atopic dermatitis, etc.). It is clear that the treatment of such different diseases will be significantly different.
In general, allergic diseases treatment includes cessation of contact with the allergen, hypoallergenic life, diet, and medication.
If you or your child develop an allergic reaction to any stimulus, you should take an antihistamine drug of the first generation (suprastin, etc.) at the age of dosage and immediately consult a doctor. If you suspect a life-threatening condition like an attack of bronchial asthma (first occurred) or a Quincke’s edema – call for an ambulance.
If you or your child is diagnose with bronchial asthma, if an attack occurs, act strictly according to your doctor’s recommendations. In the pharmacotherapy of acute allergic conditions, antihistamines, glucocorticosteroids, bronchodilators, enterosorbents, etc. are used. Depending on the severity of the course, the physician will select the necessary therapy for you.
Treatment in a calm period
A “quiet period” is the time when the aggravation of allergic disease is stopped, and the patient does not receive treatment or receives an essential therapy that is aimed at preventing new seizures. Depending on the severity of the disease, an allergist can recommend a diet, hypoallergenic life, and medication.
Diet for allergic diseases is analyzed in a separate article.
Hypoallergenic life is a general recommendation for all patients suffering from atopic diseases. These include limiting the patient’s contact with dust, pollen, pet hair, tobacco and other allergens. To do this, remove from the house rugs and rugs, soft armchairs, extra pillows and everything where dust can collect, put on special mattresses and cushions dustproof covers, wash bed linens and blankets as often as possible, regularly ventilate the room, refuse to smoke in the house, etc.
Medicamentous therapy is selected depending on the frequency and severity of allergic episodes. After the start of treatment should regularly visit a doctor and inform him about his condition for correction of therapy. Observe all recommendations. Keep a particular diary at home. Record the dates and times of each attack, as well as the allergen that caused it.
Take the diary with you when you go to the reception. So the doctor will be easier to navigate in your condition. Check with your doctor for signs of deterioration. You should know exactly what your actions will be in case of an attack.
Allergen-Specific Immunotherapy (SIT)
This method of treatment consists in introducing into the patient’s body increasing doses of the extract of the allergen to which the patient has increased sensitivity. As a result of this treatment, a gradual increase in the body’s resistance to the effect of this allergen occurs.
Remember that SITs are conducted exclusively in the period of remission and strictly according to indications. With proper administration, this method of treatment is effective and safe. However, remember that to avoid the development of complications, after the introduction of allergens, the patient should be under the supervision of the doctor for at least 30 minutes.
Prevention of exacerbations of allergic diseases
During the period of remission, the patient can not make any complaints about his state of health. Bright symptomatology manifests the aggravation with a deterioration in the general condition of the patient. That is why prevention of exacerbations is one of the main tasks of therapy. Everything can be significant: what you eat, what you drink, where you live, how often you walk, how your home life is organized, whether there are pets, what cosmetics you use, whether you go to restaurants, what kinds of sports you like, etc.
If you are diagnosed with one of the allergic diseases, the doctor will tell you about the basics of prevention of exacerbations. It is clear that specific methods of prevention have been developed for each condition. Here we give only general recommendations.